Butternut squash bread with toasted walnuts and dark chocolate


Squash bread 2

There are some recipes that you turn to again and again, and they become trusted favourites, as reliable as an old friend that never lets you down. One such recipe was taken from a small supplement that came free with the weekend papers many years ago, but there is no name attached to the small torn out page, so I can’t credit it. The original recipe is for a banana bread which has oft proved the perfect solution for rescuing a couple of very ripe bananas that are on the brink of taking themselves off to the compost heap.

So, when the idea for making a sweet loaf cake (or bread as they tend to be called, although that sort of annoys me) using some of my final butternut squash supply, I felt sure that an adaptation of this recipe wouldn’t fail me. At least that was the hope, as it was tested out on some visiting friends, unassuming guinea pigs to my baking experiments.

Squash bread 1

And it’s about time I posted a sweet recipe on this blog. I’m a big fan of using up my vegetables in a cake. Beware, this isn’t a light, airy sort of cake. It’s not a skipping through a flower meadow in a floaty skirt sort of cake. Its a sturdy, robust, walking boots and a chunky knit scarf sort of cake. Perfect with a cup of tea after a brisk, wintry dog walk.

You can substitute the butternut squash for pumpkin, or use ripe, mashed bananas. And I have made it with or without the walnuts, and it’s equally good.

Ingredients:

  • 125g softened butter
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 150g walnuts
  • 250g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a couple of pinches of allspice
  • 200g brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 250g butternut squash or pumpkin
  • a few drops of vanilla essence
  • 150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, or choc chips. Plus an extra 50g for topping.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Butter and line a couple of small loaf tins, or 1 larger tin (I used a 1.5 litre capacity tin).
  2. Peel and roughly chop the squash, put into a pan of simmering water for about 10 minutes, and when soft, drain and mash well.
  3. Mix the milk with the lemon juice and leave aside.
  4. Put the walnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes to toast. Leave to cool.
  5. Sift the flour, bicarb, cinnamon and allspice into a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with half the sugar in a mixer or with an electric beater until light and fluffy.
  7. Gradually add the eggs with a spoonful of the flour mixture, and then beat in the rest of the sugar, the squash and vanilla essence.
  8. Beat the rest of the flour mixture in along with the milk, bit by bit.
  9. Roughly chop the walnuts and fold into the mixture along with the chocolate.
  10. Pour into the loaf tin(s) and bake in the oven for 50 mins or until a metal skewer comes out clean.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes (this is important, I have made the mistake of trying to tip it out too quickly and left half of it in the tin, please don’t repeat my mistake).
  12. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack, and when cool enough, melt the rest of the chocolate and drizzle over in your best Jackson Pollock impression.

Squash bread 3

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